Monthly Archives: January 2018

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Translanguaging

On Friday I learned that Translanguaging is a term for communication that involves slipping between languages both verbal and visual. On Friday in an outhouse of Aston Hall I joined artists from a range of disciplines to learn about a research project investigating Translanguaging conducted by academics from a number of British Universities. Each academic had just 15 minutes to share with us a sample of their research. We watched a video of a butcher at Birmingham indoor market engaging with a customer who wants to buy some pork belly. We studied a short transcript of a consultation in which a Polish(?) speaker is helped through an application for disability benefit. We listened to an audio recording of a football coach run through a warm up routine with some young children and another recording of someone explaining their plans to start up a Polish Cafe in Leeds(?). Finally we conducted a textural analysis of a text message conversation that switches between Chinese and English.

In the afternoon the artists took over with half hour long sessions – from a menu of options I selected to learn about Clare Patey and her Empathy Museum, then to hear more from Mohammed Ali MBE about his Knights of the Raj exhibition.

You may ask what was I doing there, how did I earn my coffee and cold buffet lunch? Officially I was there to see if there were any connections between the research and Stan’s Cafe’s art but I don’t think I earned my lunch. Of course any research exploring the limitations of language, it’s slippery nature is going to connect with or performances, we’re big into being playful with language – throwing ugly phrases like ‘big into’ into the mix Etc. Be Proud of Me was largely about this, tourist phrasebooks supplying us with 50% of the show’s text. We regularly abandon verbal language entirely to let visuals speak.

It was interesting to see how these Linguists/Sociologists work, though I would have liked to have been able to stay ‘after hours’ a bit to interrogate the academics on their ambitions for the overall research. As an ignorant bystander it seemed like a lot of effort was going into recording and theorizing things those of us who live in multi-lingual environments – or who go on holidays to places were we don’t speak the local language – feel we know anyway. Presumably this is exactly the befuddled critique that drives them bananas.

My biggest take home idea? Well the transcripts they have made of the interactions they have recorded would make fun scripts to play with them because of course no one would ever dream of writing (or staging) them.

My take home work? I enjoyed hearing about Caroline Tagg’s PhD thesis from March 2009 about the language of text messages – so I’ve downloaded that to read.

Little Earthquake: Grimm Tales Retold – Inside Rehearsal Week 2

We’re currently in rehearsals for Grimm Tales Retold, our latest collaboration with the Department of Drama & Theatre Arts at the University of Birmingham. Throughout the rehearsal period, we’ve been working with a brilliant ensemble of students to bring Phil’s script alive and we invited the cast to write guest blog posts about the process. Find out what happened in the rehearsal room during week two below.

You can also read about what happened during week one of rehearsals here, and book tickets for the show online here.

Bethany Hartland
Monday 15th January, 9am – 1pm

Hi, it’s Beth!

After the usual warm-up of Tag and Bananas Of The World, Unite!, a futile attempt at Quad (sorry, Gareth!) and unsuccessfully moving into our right positions for the A B C and D Friendship Circles (to be fair, a couple of the cast weren’t in rehearsal today) – we finally started our Monday the way all Mondays should start: by pretending to be foxes.

I don’t know about you but I admit my knowledge on the ol’ fox proved to be very little. However, our three years of Drama training at university meant that merely putting a bit of Little Mix on full blast resulted in many an inner fox rising to the surface. In pairs we created various fox sequences – the ‘Peeping Fox’ had to be one of my favourites, though the leg bounce and glide that accompanied it was surprisingly complex. After learning one another’s sequences and filming them for future use, we moved onto fox tics and I have to say I have the ‘itchy fox with a leg twinge’ down! Although it all sounds rather bizarre, the foxes will actually have a clever purpose, I promise.

I’m looking forward to doing more work with the Office Twats and their characters; I think they are going to be a really fun addition to the play.

We then moved onto developing a sequence involving the Office Twats from the final scene. Although it took FAR too long for seven people to work out that we needed to fill four beats each for the sequence to work, once we had all the folders successfully moving down the line, it looked pretty damn good. Having the remixed Muppet music playing alongside the gestures makes it feel incredibly slick and cool, and because of that I don’t even care that the tune was stuck in my head for the rest of the day. I’m looking forward to doing more work with the Office Twats and their characters; I think they are going to be a really fun addition to the play.

I can’t wait for people to see it all!

#QuakeGrimm

Scott Wilson
Monday 15th January, 2pm – 6pm

It’s logistics week!!! We worked through the Cinderella scene and the first couple of scenes with me and my loving brother Will. It’s great seeing the show take shape as we start to add props into the mix. A particular favourite prop of mine is the gingerbread house that I am not allowed to eat, but we’ll see how long that lasts once we get into show week! It’s also been great being able to rehearse with the stage dimensions marked up in the rehearsal room and getting to grips with the stage space we have.

We also looked at the moment of my onstage costume change – calm yourselves!! Let’s just say thank goodness there’s a sofa to hide behind!

I’m absolutely loving getting to develop my character further and finding all the different sides to him. It turns out he’s got an emotional side too, who knew?!

I’m absolutely loving getting to develop my character further and finding all the different sides to him. It turns out he’s got an emotional side too, who knew?! We’ve got a full improvised run of the show at the end of this week and I’m so excited to see the whole production come together. Everybody is working so hard and it really is paying off. This is definitely a show that you don’t want to miss!

#QuakeGrimm #TeamJake

Georgiana Poteiciuc
Tuesday 16th January, 9am-1pm

Every rehearsal brings a new idea, a new perspective, and a new detail.

This Tuesday we have been focusing on the Hansel and Gretel scene. We started, as usual, with a few physical and vocal exercises in order to prepare our bodies for performing. During the first few rehearsals I remember wondering why we were going to need to go through the same scene so many times. It is amazing, however, to see how a specific moment, even a few lines, can develop and grow in complexity and become well defined once explored in different ways. Every rehearsal brings a new idea, a new perspective, a new detail that would have never been discovered without practice. This was also the case with Hansel and Gretel. We had been focusing on what each character wants most at each moment, without worrying about movements, set and logistics. It was now time to think a little more about these elements.

With the scripts in our hands for the first time we explored how our wants affected the way we moved in the space. I particularly like the way Jake and Will fit in the scene at the beginning and interact with us without us actually seeing them. Overall it has been a really productive rehearsal which made me understand better both the characters and the scene and I am looking forward to what is yet to come.

Lydia Sirovica
Wednesday 17th January, 2pm – 6pm

We are well and truly on our way to an almost completed show. It’s really starting to come together now and it is such an exciting process!

In today’s rehearsal we took a first look at the final sections of the play where I play Valentina. I have to admit this is one of my favourite parts of the play. I was told today to ‘BE BOLD’ and really ‘think about what I want.’ I think I did both of these techniques quite well and it helped me discover that actually Valentina is a bit of a manipulative character in the end… which is very fun to play! I feel as though these last few scenes are the crescendo of the play, with all of us on stage as a full cast performing. The ‘Office Twats’ are the absolute highlight of my rehearsals at the moment and if I wasn’t playing Valentina, I would definitely have enjoyed being a Twat! Grimm Tales Retold is certainly now on its feet and really starting to take its shape.

I feel as though these last few scenes are the crescendo of the play, with all of us on stage as a full cast performing.

Thursday 18th January, 1pm – 5pm
William Melhuish

‘Fairy-tale rehearsal process?’

After last week, it was clear to see that morale was high going into Monday morning’s rehearsal. After working on wants and improvisation last week, there was a certain confidence in the shape of the play and our abilities as actors. This week was a bit more intense; scenes were explored logistically and it was clear to see that people had already started to work on their scripts. As a result, we were all keen to show the potential that we had as actors going into a professional environment. After last week, Gareth promised us a more hands-on dissection of each of the scenes and boy did he mean it!

After last week, Gareth promised us a more hands-on dissection of each of the scenes and boy did he mean it!

Thursday’s rehearsal was focused around my scene in particular (Little Red Riding Hood), and it gave me a chance to explore my relationships with the space and also the other characters. As we began to develop the scene, a certain chill of homicidal eloquence slowly appeared within my character. It was so enjoyable seeing my character change as we explored his ‘wants’ and his relationships to the individual characters. Gareth is so effective in the way that he discourages the old cliché acting techniques of the tongue-in-cheek Bond villain. Instead, he asked me to explore the character with a disturbing calmness which seems to give nothing away to the audience (which I can only say, drastically improves the scene).

Bring on next week!

George Bandy
Thursday 18th January, 6-10pm

Thursday evening’s rehearsal was daunting, as it carried with it the prospect of a full run of the show, without scripts, the next day. It was our last chance to approach not just any scene, but possibly the most logistically confusing and intense scene in the play. The Rumpelstiltskin scene, without giving too much away, brings with it a vast number of unique props for every single actor in the show, which are all moved about the stage, exchanged, brought on and off, and are generally a pain. Additionally, the scene requires very sensitive performances, touching on potentially troubling themes, and utilising everything from extremely intimate moments, to slapstick ones.

Approaching the scene having already explored it using the ‘wants’ process that Gareth, our director, uses, it became a lot easier to then cover the logistics of the scene without worrying about filling them in later. It meant that we were able to structure the scene around performance, rather than performance around the logistical aspects, which was enormously helpful for us as performers.

Working in this way meant that we were able to structure the scene around performance, rather than performance around the logistical aspects of the production.

Additionally, it meant that we were already very aware of the challenges of the scene, and had had time to process them in advance, rather than being surprised by them. Right from the beginning of this second ‘logistical’ look at the scene, Gareth ensured that each actor was keeping track of the number of props that they moved, used, exchanged, etc., which meant that we were able to be very efficient in working through the scene, rather than having to wait whilst one member of the stage management team logged each individual instance. Furthermore, it meant that every actor had a better understanding of the backstage preparations that they would have to undertake.

Finally, having already explored our ‘wants’ for the scene, we were far more comfortable when it came to working out the logistics. My character, especially, has a large emotional journey in this scene, and I found it very useful to cover the aspects in this order.

Unfortunately, due to the duration of the scene, we found ourselves left without enough time to fully complete the work on the evening, but this is something that time was left for before the run-through the following day, and meant we would be more careful of timescale in the future.

Charlotte Biggs
Friday 19th January, 2pm – 6pm

This production is full to the brim with laughs, tears and some very surprising moments. The process has really allowed me to push myself further as an actor.

Hi! It’s Charlotte again.

This blog post is about our final rehearsal of Week 2. I cannot believe how quickly the whole process is going! In this rehearsal, we did a full, improvised run through of Grimm Tales Retold, and it was fantastic! Considering we only started to work with the scripts two weeks ago, I cannot believe how far we have come.

This production is full to the brim with laughs, tears and some very surprising moments. I have never performed in a production like this before, and it’s been such a fantastic experience. The process has really allowed me to push myself further as an actor, especially with this run through, which was improvised without scripts. You really are going to be kicking yourself if you miss this show, so get your tickets now!

#QuakeGrimm #TeamSukie

The post Grimm Tales Retold – Inside Rehearsal Week 2 appeared first on Little Earthquake.

MidlandsImprov.com: LEICESTER COMEDY FESTIVAL 2018 – WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT

There are more than 30 improv performances at Leicester’s huge comedy festival in February.  The reviews below give a taste of what is to come.

Leicester comedy festival 2018

8th – Rhymes Against Humanity – “Totally bizarre, funny and enthralling”

9th – The MMORPG Show – “An hilarious hour of geekery”

10th/24th – Darren Walsh – “Given any topic he’ll invent or remember a gag on it”

10th/19th – The Same Faces – “Comedy goodness…a strong team of performers”

11th – Russell Hicks – “Hilarious stuff…a talent for riffing off the fly”

11th – Austentatious – “Hilariously bold…ridiculously silly…wickedly funny”

11th – Punel Show – “A masterclass in fast paced puns”

13th-22nd – Nicholas Holt   “The master of combining comedy with anything”

15th/16th – Showstopper! – “More talent here than in any show I’ve seen”

15th/16th – Ben Van Der Velde – “Reliably entertaining”

16th – Happily Never After – “Sure to go down as greats in theatre history”

17th – Anna Morris – “A quick wit and an impressive ability to react”

22nd – The Clones – “Characterisations as perfect as I’ve ever seen”

23rd/24th – Crime Scene Improv – “Top tier entertainment”

24th – Spontaneous Sherlock – “Undeniably funny from start to finish”

25th – Improv Smackdown – “A fantastically funny night out”

 

There’s also plenty of unscripted humour from shows combining a mix of stand-up comedians.  Look out for Silent Comedy (10th), Tom Young’s Daft Conversation (12th) and Improv Provocateur (22nd/23rd).

 

The Leicester Comedy Festival runs 7th-25th February in Leicestershire & Rutland.  Get your tickets now at http://comedy-festival.co.uk/

 

The Other Way Works: Playtesters Wanted! Help us playtest our new immersive theatre experience

Date: Saturday 3rd February 2018, 2-3pm / 4-5pm
Location: BOM (Birmingham Open Media), 1 Dudley St, Birmingham B5 4EG
Free but advance booking essential via this link: https://goo.gl/forms/BTIB9RVMGYIalp7I3

As we continue to develop and refine ‘A Moment of Madness’ our immersive theatre meets urban gaming experience, we are looking for a group of willing volunteers to help us test some of our new material.

So if you’re happy to look beyond some very rough edges, and you’re excited about trying out a new interactive real-world game really early in its creative development, you’re exactly who we need right now!

This playtest will focus on getting to grips with the narrative, and we will be seeking playtesters’ input into what aspects of the story are making an impact, and where we need to work harder to make things clear.

Each playtest session will last 1 hour, and testers will work as a group. There will be an opportunity to provide feedback at the end with Katie Day, Artistic Director, The Other Way Works and John Sear, Technologist and Experimental Game Designer.

No experience is necessary to take part, only a willingness to engage. (16+)

Please sign up here to book your place – thank you!

Katie Day & John Sear
www.theotherwayworks.co.uk

(If you have any further questions please email them to info@theotherwayworks.co.uk)

A Moment of Madness is supported by BOM and Arts Council England.

The Other Way Works: Project funding success for A Moment of Madness!!

We’re very excited to announce that we’ve been awarded funding from Arts Council England to make A Moment of Madness a reality.

An immersive theatre meets urban gaming experience, A Moment of Madness explores the morality of surveillance and our expectations of the private lives of public figures.

The project pioneers exciting new ground in the areas of digital technologies and interactive performance, bringing these together with puzzle-based gaming in a way that we have never seen done before.

We’ll be developing the production with support from our partners BOM this year, with the premiere scheduled for Spring 2019. We know that’s quite a long time to wait, but we promise it will be worth it!

In the meantime watch out for opportunities to test some of the elements in development over the next few months.

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Building Resilience #2

September was Salford and January has just been Bristol. At We The Curious we, a bunch of curious arts organisations, learned more about resilience at the feet of Arts Manager International. Last year we were tutored in the fundraising cycle, this year it was about board development, individual and corporate giving.

First up was Michael Kaiser, using as series of great stories to illustrate his learning points, stories of running a Ballet Company in Cowboy country (Kansas City), brokering a ludicrously high profile series of marketing opportunities for the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, traumatic board meetings early in his tenure at The Royal Opera House and getting ambitious at the Kennedy Center.

Following both lunch and Mr. Kaiser was a rough gig for Nicole Kidstone. She was walking us through a cycle of Prospecting, Cultivating, Soliciting and Stewarding donors when her gig got rougher still – delegates started to question the ethics of doing research on people to establish their wealth and propensity for charitable giving before asking them to support their cause. Many people seemed to think that this strategy was about being nice to people in order to get to their money – a counter argument rang out that most organistions in the room were happy enough to take money from the National Lottery that disproportionately comes from less affluent members of society so it was a bit hypocritical of them to start having qualms about asking more affluent members of society to contribute.

Here was were Ms. Kidstone came into her own, giving us a glimpse of her professional skill, the prosaic power-point mode was dropped and she gave a convincing demonstration of how her strategy is to be nice to people because being nice to people is nice; if people donate, continue being nice to them, if they don’t donate – continue being nice to them. It was all easy and genuine charm – we share a love of art and what it brings, we both want to make this happen, we all bring what we wish to the party and together we make it happen. For some this all seemed underhand, for me it made total sense encapsulating our approach (mostly minus the asking people for money part – we’ve not being going heavy on our Scheming Friends effort).

Day 2 was over to the familiar incisive, witty charms of Brett Egan who led on the Corporate Giving strategy and introduced us to the video embedded above.

We wound up proceedings with a Bret/Nicole double act role playing with delegates how a Solicitation conversation might run. In their polished American tones it had all sounded very natural and easy, in our mealy mouthed apologetic British tones less so, but it all comes down to practice.

We’ve got some very big plans brewing over the next five years so we’re going to have to get practicing, with the voices of Arts Manager International ringing in our ears it all seems possible.

Little Earthquake: 1% Pledge Update – Sarah-Jane Watkinson

At our East Meets West Symposium in July 2017, we invited the delegates to make a 1% Pledge, a promise to do something that would improve the way we all work together in the independent theatre sector, and ultimately, increase the quality of what we put in front of audiences. We asked some of those who made a pledge to give us an update on how it’s all going.

Below, proud Eastie and honorary Westie Sarah-Jane Watkinson, an Independent Producer from Birmingham, explains what inspired her pledge and the difference it has made so far.

You can connect directly with SJ (as everyone calls her) on Twitter, and find out more about her work at www.outercirclearts.co.uk. She is currently producing The Death Show which begins touring this month – more details here.

You can download a full list of the 1% Pledges that were made here. If you made a pledge and would like to give us an update, please get in touch!

Sarah-Jane writes:

“My 1% pledge – “To build a training / mentoring opportunity for a new producer into one of my projects.”

First of all, a confession. I made my pledge not entirely for altruistic reasons. I am absolutely flat out with work and have had to turn down several fantastic projects recently because I simply didn’t have the capacity. On each of those occasions, I could have taken them on if I’d had someone I could share the workload with. Not only was it incredibly frustrating as a freelancer to turn down work, but I really wanted to see these projects on the stage. I came to the conclusion that I was going to have to take some responsibility myself to address this.

There is a shortage of producers with the broad range of skills and experience necessary for small scale touring, which includes tour booking, fundraising, finance, marketing and legal stuff, as well as a working knowledge of technical matters, nerves of steel, the patience of a saint and UN level negotiating skills. Not to mention flapjack baking, van driving, pastoral care and buying the essential post show round of drinks.

Whilst several theatres across the region have schemes to support emerging artists and companies, there is very little out there for budding producers. All too often, it’s a skill that isn’t even recognised as a thing in its own right; I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been invited for coffee so that I can pass on my skills. I can forgive young people who are starting out fresh for this, but not those who’ve been at it for a while; producing is difficult, takes time and is my livelihood, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to be valued and remunerated.

I’ve begun to fulfil my pledge in a number of ways. I built in small roles into two forthcoming projects, both with GforA funding. Sammy Gooch is working with Leeds based Uncanny Theatre on a national tour of their new show Outrage, and Cat Butler is working with Birmingham based artists Antonia Beck and Lucy Nicholls on The Death Show, ready for a preview tour in spring 2018.

Both of these roles will mainly be about marketing and press support this time around, but with the opportunity for Sammy and Cat to gain a grasp of the wider role of producer. I would have liked these to have been bigger roles with a more structured mentoring process, but was limited by timescale and budgetary constraints. The aim is for us to continue to work together in future, to build on these first steps so that they, the artists and myself can develop the kind of trusted working partnership that is essential in this work.

I’ve also been thinking about other ways to make various small contributions to people who are starting out. In my role as General Manager at The Play House, I’m working with our intern Naomi Cooper to introduce her to the work of producer and company manager. I’ve also spoken at several events and been on panels for students and graduates. I’m hoping that this can be something that is useful over the longer term and not just someone’s quick fix for the price of an espresso.”

The post 1% Pledge Update – Sarah-Jane Watkinson appeared first on Little Earthquake.

Graeme Rose's Blog: CHOKE

CHOKE

CHOKE is a new play by award-winning writer Chris O’Connell and Theatre Absolute, the company he formed with Julia Negus. It is the sixth in a series of new works under the umbrella theme – ‘Are We Where We Are?’ – taken from a line in Paul Auster’s Walden. Rehearsals of CHOKE are now into their second week at Coventry’s Shop Front Theatre, founded by Julia and Chris in 2009.

Rob’s made a twelve-hour journey, buttoned up in a ball of five coats begged from a bunch of strangers. He’s hitchhiked in sub-zero temperatures to the edge of nowhere because he just can’t stand it any longer, and because he has the strangest, most absurd request…Choke tells the story of lifelong friends Rob and Stu, each staring into the gap between who they thought they were, and who they are now.

Further details and ticket info visit the Theatre Absolute website.

Little Earthquake: Grimm Tales Retold – Inside Rehearsal Week 1

We’re currently in rehearsals for Grimm Tales Retold, our latest collaboration with the Department of Drama & Theatre Arts at the University of Birmingham. Throughout the rehearsal period, we’ve been working with a brilliant ensemble of students to bring Phil’s script alive and we invited the cast to write guest blog posts about the process. Find out what happened in the rehearsal room during week one below…

Scott Wilson
Monday 8th January, 9am – 1pm

Hi I’m Scott,

I don’t think I’ve ever been in a room full of so much excitement and enthusiasm to get started on a production. It was such a great session to get used to working with each other and with Little Earthquake. The ‘Bananas Of The World, Unite!’ exercise was definitely the wake-up call I needed on the first day back after Christmas, and I can already feel my Christmas dinner dropping off me!

Gareth focused on making us comfortable in being as silly and creative as possible. His advice to act like a 4-year-old who doesn’t care what people think was something that I really took on board. So let’s hope everyone’s ready for 4-year-old me to come out!

We have already addressed a couple of issues with the script to work on but the list of positives was much longer, so come and see what you think!

#QuakeGrimm #TeamJake

I don’t think I’ve ever been in a room full of so much excitement and enthusiasm to get started on a production.

Jordan Farrag
Monday 8th January, 2pm – 6pm

Rehearsals for Grimm Tales Retold started on the 8th of January. I think it is safe to say that both the cast and Little Earthquake shared a peculiar mix of excitement, nervousness and passion for the project. I was tasked with writing this short entry to cover our rehearsal on the afternoon of the first day of the process.

We started with an improvisation exercise that encouraged us to trust our instincts and accept the offers that we were giving to each other. Gareth stressed the importance of trusting our instincts and listening to one another, which created this sense of shared agency for our creative decisions, a sort of creative interdependency, which I think is reflective of what the piece is all about. We aim to work together to create something GREAT!

Strangely, running the whole play in the first afternoon made the task ahead feel far more manageable.

Then we were asked to run the whole play. Conveniently Gareth had just implemented this ‘working trust’ between all of us so he said, “be bold”, “trust your instincts” and “listen to each other’s offers”. We did exactly that and ran the play from start to finish. This allowed us to see what the play was really about, provided us with a deeper understanding of each character and encouraged us to start thinking about our characters’ ‘wants’.

Strangely, running the whole play in the first afternoon made the task ahead feel far more manageable and further excited the cast as we began realising the complexities of Phil’s writing. As we left the rehearsal at 6pm, our cast walked back down towards Selly Oak, all sharing stories of the day and laughing. I could not have asked for a better start, or a better bunch of people to embark on this journey with.

Charlotte Biggs
Tuesday 9th January, 9am – 1pm

Hi, I’m Charlotte! I’m a member of the cast in Grimm Tales Retold. This post is about our second rehearsal day and it’s already been so much fun! Today’s session consisted of a few warm-up activities to get us ready for the rehearsal. After this, we began to explore our characters ‘wants’ in the script. This was so useful in understanding our characters’ intentions for the scenes, even if it was something as simple as wanting to sit down on a chair.

We then began working on Act 1, Scene 1, and part of Scene 2. It was scary to think we’d only been working with each other for two days and we were already moving on to the first scene! But it was great to see the play up on its feet.

It was scary to think we’d only been working with each other for two days and we were already moving on to the first scene! But it was great to see the play up on its feet.

Gareth started the process of exploring ‘wants’ by having the actors lines ‘fed’ to them. After this was repeated a few times, the scene then had to be improvised without scripts, which was daunting to begin with, but the results were amazing! It enabled the actors to not be weighed down with a script, and allowed for some very authentic and raw moments to burst through. I’m so looking forward to the rest of the rehearsals and cannot wait for you all to see Grimm Tales Retold!

George Bandy
Wednesday 10th January, 2pm – 6pm

It was on Wednesday that we saw the set for the first time as a cast. For a production put together in only four weeks, a timeframe far shorter than most of us are used to, the idea of being on stage so soon was initially quite terrifying. Indeed, we were told that we would be entering the space ourselves in a mere fortnight, which with such an ambitious script provided some concerns.

We needn’t have worried, however, as upon entering the Production Meeting room, we were greeted by videos explaining the concepts, remarkable illustrations of costume plans for every single character in a multi-role-heavy play, and a miniaturised reproduction of the planned stage. The transformation from what I had imagined and worried about on the page was incredible; the design team have created a blend of urban and rural, placing the action of the play on the very divide of the two, melding the narrators’ room into forest land, office block and hospital in a variety of ways.

I admire the work that the design team has done so far, and am extremely excited to see it at full scale!

Here we were informed of how scene changes would take place, utilising a chorus referenced repeatedly in the script (with a twist, naturally), and I, certainly, truly began to understand how the show would fit together. As someone who is used to being on stage, but rarely behind it, I don’t envy the design team and backstage teams’ jobs, but certainly admire the work they have done so far, and am extremely excited to see it at full scale!

Katie Webster
Thursday 11th January, 1pm – 5pm

How are we already at Day 4?! Today began with another classic game of tag, which Gareth ensures is to help us focus on what we want most in the world (which to be fair it really does), but boy does it get sweaty in the rehearsal room! Definitely don’t have a heavy lunch before a Little Earthquake warm-up.

We kept working through the scenes today, section by section, really focusing on what our characters want most in that moment. We’ve reached the Cinderella scene, where I play Assista. Assista is basically Amazon’s Alexa but “100 times better”. We continued to work in the format of a read-through of the whole scene, then a run-through of a section of the scene with the lines being fed to us, then a run with Gareth stopping and starting us to really focus on our want, and finally we improvise the scene, purely working from our instincts.

This is a really useful process in working out exactly what our character wants, but also varying how we offer those wants to one another. However, as Assista, I was fairly limited in how I can speak, as she’s a machine! Or is she…?

I think it’s safe to say this scene ends in a way nobody would expect it to, and I can’t wait to hear the audience’s reaction.

I found it challenging to improvise as Assista specifically since a lot of her lines are relaying information about ordering emergency chicken, but even though I’m not physically in the scene, it’s interesting to discover what she really wants, and just how damn manipulative she is. It’s also a credit to my fellow performers that Assista truly came alive in the rehearsal room today, as the way everyone interacts with an inanimate tube is genius.

I think it’s safe to say this scene ends in a way nobody would expect it to, and I can’t wait to hear the audience’s reaction. If this scene doesn’t make you think twice about that electronic personal assistant you got for Christmas, you might want to be careful what you say…

Lydia Sirovica
Thursday 11th January, 6pm -10pm

I’m so, so excited to be a part of this production and this first week of rehearsals has been very interesting for me!

We warmed up at the start of the rehearsal with ‘Bananas Of The World, Unite!’ I love that we all do this together at the start of each rehearsal; I see it as a way to focus and become engaged as a group (it’s also really fun to let yourself go!) Following this we played a game in which we all stood in a circle and the aim was to walk towards someone in the circle, say a letter of the alphabet and touch them on the shoulder. In this time, however, the person who is being walked towards must say a Name, Object and Place beginning with that letter in order to stay in the circle. This really tested how quickly we could think on our feet… There were quite a few moments in which panic took over and my mind went blank. The purpose of the game was to explore how we react to an offer made by someone else, in the moment and using our initial instincts.

I’ve never used ‘wants’ and ‘feeding in’ before, and I think the key thing to note is how simple they are to apply, and for me it made a huge difference in the way I performed her.

After a series of warm-up games in this session, we continued to work through the script chronologically, which allowed us to experiment with our characterisation. In this session we worked on one of my scenes — Cinderella. When reading the script I struggled to characterise Georgia, however, using the ‘feeding in’ technique and putting this scene on its feet, I began to understand what she wanted. Using ‘wants’ I started to think about what my aim was as Georgia: for example, at one point I came up with ‘I want to calm Cassie down.’ I’ve never used this technique before and I think the key thing to note is how simple it is to apply, and for me it made a huge difference in the way I performed her. I also found myself starting to listen to what I was being offered by other characters in the scene, especially when we were told to improvise it. The session finished at 10pm so I’m not going to lie when I say I was very tired! Still, so far rehearsals are keeping me on my toes and it seems to be going very well!

Will Melhuish
Friday 12th January, 3pm – 7pm

As week one of rehearsals comes to a close there is a definite whiff (pun intended) of excitement amongst everyone involved in this production. We started the week off as you would expect every drama rehearsal to start – playing various games. However, looking back now, this seems less as a way of having fun, and more about developing an identification as a unified group who are willing to trust one another. This is, without doubt, one of the most stimulating, demanding, but also rewarding projects I have ever been involved in, and I’m sure that my co-performers agree with me on this. The level of energy going into the first week has certainly not subsided, and our abilities as actors have been pushed to the very limit.

By Friday morning, the commonplace proverb “BE BOLD” echoes in all of our ears as we approach the end of the script. Already, by having the
play acted out in front of us, we can see just how magical and disturbing it actually is. Echoes of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror seem to radiate out of the rehearsal space, as neither we nor the audience know what will come next.

By achieving this sense of playfulness, Gareth’s method of ‘feeding in’ the lines, and removing ourselves from the cold grip of the script has allowed us to really play with these characters and come to rehearsals with more and more creative ideas.

Every day we move further and further away from the boring old ‘happily ever after’.

By Friday afternoon, we were exploring the Little Red Riding Hood scene which has the effect of leading the audience down a course of sadomasochistic pleasure and discovery (something which you don’t experience every day). There were fantastic juxtapositions which were literally jumping out of this scene, particularly when Katie and I discovered a tender relationship develop between the Wolf and Melinda! All I can say is, every day we successfully move further and further away from the boring old ‘happily ever after’.

The post Grimm Tales Retold – Inside Rehearsal Week 1 appeared first on Little Earthquake.